Joint Committee On Human Rights Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

28.  Memorandum from Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux

  Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the call for evidence on the establishment of a Human Rights Commission to protect and promote human rights in the UK.

  Citizens Advice Scotland is part of the Scottish Human Rights Forum, an informal network of organisations with the common aim of seeing a Human Rights Commission established in Scotland. While we believe a distinct Scottish Human Rights Commission is necessary to reflect the separate legal system in Scotland we also support the establishment of a Human Rights Commission for the UK, which would work closely with its Scottish counterpart.

  We recognise the existence of other statutory bodies to receive complaints on some aspects of human rights, particularly discrimination. However these organisations do not cover the full range of human rights, as outlined in the Human Rights Act.

  We would particularly support a Commission with the power to conduct investigations on the request of others where there may have been a violation of human rights. The experience of the Citizens Advice Bureaux is that many clients are reluctant to pursue their rights through tribunals or court cases, citing fear of the process as the reason why (see enclosed report). We would therefore welcome the establishment of a body which removes the responsibility from individuals to ensure human rights legislation is implemented.

  That said, we believe other duties of a Human Rights Commission such as general awareness-raising, producing guidance for public bodies and advising Parliament, would significantly reduce the number of cases contested under the Human Rights Act.

  Citizens Advice Scotland believes any Human Rights Commission must be established on a statutory basis and given adequate resources to ensure it has the power to fulfil its duties effectively.

20 June 2001

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